Coming to terms with home

“I was born very far from where I belong and I am on my way home.” 
For many of my teenage years, I carried this quote with my like a child carries a comfort blanket. I felt as though I did not and could not properly belong to a physical place that could entrance and encompass me – and I ran. I started becoming a chronic wanderer, from city to city, country to country, province to province. I didn't wander to travel, however; I wandered to find a home. I adopted every new town in which I inhabited a bedroom as though it was a breathing organism that could offer me comfort and answers. Every new address put more miles between myself and where I came from; even now, I have a health card for one province and a driver's license for another, despite living in a third province completely separate from the aforementioned.

When I was younger I got my energy from the city – I could feel the pulse of its people through the streets, see their triumphs through the skyscraper lights, hear their sorrows through the raindrops on cardboard boxes. Growing up in two different suburbs as the oldest child, I was never exposed much to the downtown core of Vancouver, but when I attended an adult upgrading school in my 12th grade nestled in her heartland, I felt as though a new part of me had been opened up. I spent most of my free time skateboarding along the seawall in my then regular attire of either leather pants or a leather biker jacket, walking the streets until they were embedded into me like the veins in my body, and meeting new people while learning their stories. Many of my new friends were homeless or at risk of being homeless and although this terrified my poor mother, they were some of the only people whose eyes I could meet during conversation. See, I had just gotten back from yet another home that I had made in Nashville where 6 months were spent sorting out some stories of my own. I felt as though I had to pretend my story was free of uncertainties and setbacks once I was back with the people who helped me continue when I wanted my story to end. With my new friends of Vancouver, I never had to be anything. I know now that the people who had walked alongside me all those years loved me no matter what, but at the time I was just a kid trying to learn how to walk for a second time.

I looked to the city to heal me, but the city didn't know how. I quickly began to feel lost again when I started university, and with Capilano being the 7th school in 4 years graced with my semi-present state, I felt as though it was time to move on from Vancouver and the five different homes I had occupied. So when a then-current long distance boyfriend who I had been with for a year suggested I go to school in his province, I considered it. When I was rejected from UBC, told my grades were not good enough for a second year in my program at Cap, and was urged by my grandfather to go to Mount Allison, I packed up and moved 5000 kms across the country from a city of 2 million to a town of 5000. I figured that since I had been with my now ex-boyfriend for almost 2 years at that point and enjoyed the province, I could spend a year before moving on yet again. I got accepted, and 4 months later I entered the province in which I would eventually choose to plant my roots.

That was 2.5 years ago. Since then, I've never spent more than a few weeks in Vancouver, save for one 3 month summer where I realized how I had moved on from the city just as I had moved on from the relationship that took me away from her. Concrete no longer gives me an energy rush; instead, that comes from driving on an empty highway with my love beside me and Johnny Cash singing to me through my speakers. I no longer need to connect only with the broken; although I reach out whenever possible, I've learned to make eye contact as a result I've learned a conversation with a staff at the local bookstore can lead to a wonderful friendship. There's no busy grid to internalize into my body, but hay from the neighboring farms seems to always find its way onto my clothes.

I'm 21 now, and I feel like I'm only now just coming out of the mindset of my 17 year old self, constantly looking for where I belong - for home. I just came from a summer where I ventured to another new place, with a new bedroom, in a new province – but this time, I did not go to adopt a home, for it adopted me. And when the summer was over, and I had a brand new apartment to move into back in the familiar town of Sackville, I did not leave by running away – I left it with gratitude, but most importantly, I left it looking forward to the next time I would return.

That's the thing about homes left behind. You can always return – you don't have to leave forever. Home isn't one physical location, it's not simply just the place you lay your head at night. It's a combination of all the places where you've left pieces of yourself. And once I begin life after college, first in a little Ontario town and eventually on a large New Brunswick farm, I will let my roots grow deep with migrant Maritime pride - but I will water them with saltwater from the Pacific and creekwater from the Mad River, honoring all the places I will continue to return to and refer to as home.

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